There’s a fine line between aggressive and assertive (says, nobody.) Often times, there is a gender broad brush stroke that pens women who are assertive as aggressive, but the truth is that to be assertive means to let people know what you want for your career and then taking the actions necessary to make it happen.
People can’t read minds. Therefore, it’s left to us to make sure those around us — especially those with influence and impact — know what our career goals are so that we can achieve them. That requires the need to be assertive.
Let’s first clarify the difference between assertive and aggressive so that we make sure we are all on the same page:
Assertive people state their opinions, while still being respectful of others. Aggressive people attack or ignore others’ opinions in favor of their own. Passive people don’t state their opinions at all.
Here is the crux of his message: Saying what you want, need, expect, and can do creates success and satisfaction for you.
Being able to say you are not comfortable with a certain task, time frame, order, or suggestion opens the door for dialogue and shows people that you are open to talking but not willing to sacrifice the integrity of your own work or the performance of your company for the sake of niceness.
Here are 6 steps to help you become more assertive:
- Identify your end goal – what do you see yourself doing that will draw on your expertise and knowledge.
- Who in your network can help you achieve success?
- What steps are necessary to reach your goals?
- What projects could you work on that will help you gain experience and visibility?
- Assign dates for completing the different goals that will help you achieve success.
- Start talking about it.
Here are a few articles you might find helpful as you strive to be more assertive at work:
- How to Deal with the Negative Attitudes that Threaten Your Career
- The Power of Words: Being Mindful
- How to Be More Assertive without Being a Jerk
- 6 Steps for Being More Assertive at Work
- How to Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
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